'The Umbrella Academy': This Dolly Parton Cover was Supposed to Be In Season 2's Most Iconic Fight Scene

The Umbrella Academy‘s showrunner Steve Blackman is a big music fan. He and his team take extra care when choosing the songs heard in the Netflix series. For season 2, Blackman thought a cover of one Dolly Parton song would be perfect for a unique fight scene. Unfortunately, he hit a few speedbumps trying to get the rights to use it. 

Steve Blackman is passionate about ‘The Umbrella Academy’s soundtrack

“[Music is] another character of the show,” Blackman revealed during a Reddit AMA. Unlike other shows, Blackman said he chooses the music before shooting even begins.

“I encourage my writers to put the music into the scripts,” he explained. “That way, the actors can listen to the music ahead of time and we can all share the collective ‘vibe’ of the song.” 

‘The Umbrella Academy’ Season 2 soundtrack featured several memorable songs 

Fans will remember songs like Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now” and a cello quartet playing The Phantom of the Opera in season 1. Blackman knew he had to include just as many memorable songs in season 2 of the Netflix series. 

To do that, Blackman works with music supervisor Jen Malone — who is up for an Emmy for her work on Euphoria. Together, they’re able to pick the perfect songs for The Umbrella Academy soundtrack. 

“She offers us different choices and helps clear all the songs,” Blackman said on Reddit. “We couldn’t do it without Jen Malone and her team.” 

Steve Blackman loves choosing unconventional music for ‘The Umbrella Academy’ 

From Maxine Nightingale’s “Right Back Where We Started From” to the incredible Swedish cover of Adele’s “Hello,” season 2 was rife with great music.

Even outlandish song choices, like “Pepper” by the Butthole Surfers, fit so well into the show’s action. And we can’t forget the song that played when Klaus left his cult for good — “Everybody” by the Backstreet Boys.  

“We might have had a cocktail or two [choosing that song],” Blackman said during the “Crank the Music” episode of the Behind The Scenes | The Umbrella Academy podcast. 

“We thought what would be sort of a wonderfully absurd thing he could say as parting words to Keechie and the cult that he’s never going to see again,” Blackman continued. “Love the Backstreet Boys, but those lyrics kind of don’t make a lot of sense when you hear them together.”

Regardless of the amazing soundtrack to season 2, there was one song Blackman wanted to use that he couldn’t get approval on. 

Not every song Steve Blackman and his team want gets approved for ‘The Umbrella Academy’ 

“Sometimes we want a song and can’t clear it,” Blackman clarified on Reddit. “Either it’s just too much money or the artist won’t let us use it.”

Most of the time, Blackman said artists don’t want their music played over a scene with violence in it. In some cases, artists won’t allow any of their music to be used in movies or television — ever.

Blackman said that’s the case with Coldplay’s library of songs. He faced a different challenge when trying to get Parton’s hit “Jolene” for season 2.  

‘Jolene’ was supposed to play over Number Five and Diego’s fight scene at the Mexican Consulate

On the Behind the Scenes podcast, Blackman talked about the music for one of season 2’s most intense fight scenes — where Diego (David Castañeda), Five (Aidan Gallagher), and Lila (Ritu Arya) fight off three Swedes from the Commission.

Blackman wanted to use a “needle drop” in that particular moment — taking a song from the real world and using it to score a scene. 

“It was a really big fight,” Blackman continued. “I thought this was the perfect opportunity to play something big and rocking. Believe it or not, I tried a Miley Cyrus cover of Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene.’”

Regardless of how well “Jolene” worked, Blackman and Malone couldn’t get the clearance to use it. “It was really complicated with the number of licenses involved,” Blackman clarified on Reddit. 

Fortunately, “I Was Made For Loving You” by KISS fit perfectly. 

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